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Subway Ridership in São Paulo Decreases for the First Time in 12 Years

03/03/2017 - 11h54

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RODRIGO RUSSO
FROM SÃO PAULO

For the first time since 2004, São Paulo's subway system registered a decline in terms of annual ridership.

Statistics obtained by Folha demonstrate that São Paulo's Metro, which is run by governor Geraldo Alckmin (Brazilian Social Democracy Party), transported 1.107 billion passengers - 10 million less than the number of passengers transported in 2015.

The 0.9% decrease broke an upward trend of over 10 years in terms of demand for the subway.
The economic crisis is the driving explanation for the decrease, as commutes are reduced due to the need to economize, as well as unemployment.

However, the sluggish pace at which the subway system has been expanding (no new stations were opened in 2016) has also made it difficult for users of other transport modalities - such as automobiles or buses - to switch over to the subway.

CPTM, São Paulo's train system, also experienced a similar decrease, given that 12 million fewer passengers rode the train in 2016, when compared to the previous year.

A decrease in passengers directly impacts the Metro's revenues. Had each of those 10 million passengers bought a single ride - which is currently going for R$ 3.80 (US$ 1.20) - the Metro would have made an additional R$ 38 million (US$ 12 million).

Over the past two years, the Metro has decreased its budget by 60%, affecting investments in ongoing projects, subway expansion and both subway car and station maintenance.

Other than the overall decline in passengers, the company has also had to face the consequences of a growing number of benefits issued by the government in the form of free passes, contemplating low-income students, people with disabilities and seniors over 60.

Such benefits mean the Metro depends on government subsidies even more heavily in order to cover the expenses the free passes entail.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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